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Why It’s Never Too Late to Quit

Quitting Smoking Bears Fruit for Asthmatics, Especially

If you have asthma and smoke, you can reverse the damage it's causing to your lungs by quitting now.

If you have asthma and smoke, you can reverse the damage it's causing to your lungs by quitting now.

Generally speaking, when people make bad choices they tend to adversely affect the person making those choices more than anyone else.  But that’s not the case with smoking.  Smoking is a bad choice that adversely affects the health of the people around them almost as much as it does the smoker.  Some would say even more so.

There is no better example of this than with people who have asthma.  Cigar and cigarette smoke is the leading cause of asthma attacks, thanks to the very thing that makes cigarettes so deadly to our health: tobacco.

When people smoke and blow out those noxious fumes into the air, they don’t just disappear.  They all go somewhere, most of them winding up in the lungs of passers-by.  And if one of those passers-by happens to have asthma—and there’s a one in 15 chance that they do—it’s an asthma attack waiting to happen.  Because when tobacco smoke enters the lungs, it severely hampers its every day functioning capability.  How?  By damaging hair-like structures on the walls of the lungs (called cilia) that keep dirt and dust from going any farther.  So instead of sweeping dust molecules away as they normally would, the particles gather and gather until the asthmatic has a difficult time breathing, thus triggering an asthma attack.

So as bad as secondhand smoke is for non-smoking asthmatics, how devastating must it be for smoking asthmatics?  Pretty dang devastating, because each and every puff they take exacerbates the damage that’s already there as a result of their asthma.

But there may be hope for them.  As research from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine indicates, the damage smoking does to the lungs of asthmatics can be reversed if they snuff the puff.

Researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands recruited about 150 patients and assessed the “structural integrity,” for lack of a better word, of their lungs.  Most of them had never smoked before (66 of them), a little less than 50 of them were ex-smokers and about 35 of them still smoked.

Through bronchial biopsies and the administering of questionnaires that gauged their asthmatic symptoms, they found that the smokers’ lungs were far different from everyone else’s, both in phlegm production and the lining of their lungs.  For the smokers, the epithelial lining of their lungs was much thicker and they produced a whole heck of a lot more phlegm. This explains why smoking tends to exacerbate asthmatic symptoms, because there’s far less room for air to roam freely, combined with the blockage from the excessive amounts of phlegm.

As for the non-smokers and ex-smokers, logic would suggest that the non-smokers had the healthiest of lungs.  But surprisingly, there was no statistically significant difference in their epithelial lining and phlegm production compared to the non-smokers.

Reporting on the findings, the study’s lead author Dr. Martine Broekema said, “This study shows again how important smoking cessation is for pulmonary health, and this appears to be especially true for asthmatic patients.”

Broekema went on to say how the findings suggest that smoking can reverse the damage cigarettes cause to the lungs of asthmatic patients.

If nothing else, this study shows that it’s never too late to quit.  And if you have asthma, this truth especially applies to you.

Sources:
sciencedaily.com
webmd.com

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  1. Smoking Cessation: How Best to ‘Pack’ It In
  2. Harmful Drug used to Stop Smoking
  


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